Notepad on Life

October 29, 2012

Wedding proposals reveal a church with little faith in God

Filed under: Church,News,Relationships,Religion — - @ 1:56 pm
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Church HDR

Secularism rears its head and whaddya know? The Church of England, more desperate to be loved than a teenager in dental braces, falls meekly into line.

Senior clergy have concluded a four-year review of Anglican wedding ritual by publishing a guidance book for parish priests that apparently unfetters traditional restraints, opening the door to more ‘personalised’ orders of service.

“It will give the go-ahead for glitzy ”Posh and Becks”-style ceremonies in churches, with Mendelssohn’s Wedding March being replaced by songs such as Girls by the Sugababes or the theme from Test Match Special.

Odd twists will be welcomed, such as the use of trained owls to carry the rings to the best man…” – from The Age

How much aesthetic barbarism actually results as a consequence of this shift is irrelevant. The damage is already done. The Church of England has once again revealed itself not so much as a rock of ages as a cultural quicksand, happy to hitch its star to any passing fad it feels might shore up its crumbling credibility.

I believe there are worthwhile changes that could be made to marriage ceremonies. Too much Anglican ceremonial is repeated by rote from order of service books that have become mind-numbing through familiarity, even to veterans such as me. I would like to see clergy talk their flock through the ceremony at hand more in an ad hoc, conversational style, employing plain English that is reverential yet relevant.

I would like the glorious gravitas of the classic hymns to be balanced with more modern counterparts, instead of one being sacrificed for the other.

I would like clergy to conduct services generally in a style that leaves no doubt that they see God as part and parcel of the world around us and not as some abstract notion with whom they happen to share an ivory tower.

These changes, you’ll note, de-clutter and hone the message of hope and salvation that should boom from any act of Christian worship: they do not divert attention from it. Which is where I and the authors of the Church of England’s review part company.

There are some telling phrases employed in reports of the proposals: “personalised touches”, “more control”“If a couple feels that it’s their wedding, they are more likely to feel it’s their church.” The predominance of self over the divine. Yet that is exactly what a Christian wedding ceremony should not be about.

For just – what? – half an hour, 45 minutes of a day that is otherwise all about the happy couple, they step back and see the bigger picture. For them and their guests, the chatter stops, a breath is taken and effervescence gives way to quiet reflection upon the life-changing, life-defining relationship being embarked upon. Love, God’s greatest gift, crystallised anew in human form.

If that doesn’t mean a thing to the couple at the altar, then one must ask what they are doing there in the first place. If it does, on the other hand, then neither owls, nor the Test Match Special theme can add one iota to the moment.  Quite the opposite, in fact

The rest of the day is theirs and good luck to them. Ride your white horse, watch a thousand ivory balloons soar to the skies, dance ’til your feet throb and then make love like there’s no tomorrow. God will see it all and rejoice. All He asks in return, is just those few minutes at the outset, when circus gives way to ceremony and He can work His quiet magic, in a moment whose memory can still move its participants years later.

If only his Church believed this. Alas, we have a Church of England whose leaders think God needs a gimmick, his temple a strobe light, just to help Him along.  They sing His praises while suggesting that He go the way of all flesh.

Every time we think this institution cannot possibly embarrass its membership any more, it astounds us all over again.


1 Comment »

  1. […] touched on this theme from a different angle in the past, I think know where Mr Palmer is coming from. Like me, he seems to regard the ceremony’s […]

    Pingback by Of course folk whoop at weddings – it’s in lieu of Tweeting… | Notepad on Life — July 5, 2013 @ 8:53 am | Reply

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